does weight impact your career, a disappearing new hire, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can weight impact you professionally?

I’d really love to know your thoughts on weight and if an extra few pounds can impact you at work. In the past year, I’ve probably gained about 15-20 pounds, ironically related to work related stress and a lack of many healthy food options in the workplace. I’m the type of person where even small weight gains cause me to change clothing sizes. The way women’s suits and work clothes are cut, I feel as though there is no easy way to hide the weight. I’m currently trying to take off that weight, which typically means really early morning workouts, but it’s a slow process.

I can tell I’m more self-conscious and don’t feel as comfortable in my skin. As a young female manager, I feel like there is even more pressure to stay in shape. I’ve even had a few older coworkers dismiss when I’ve lost a few pounds, saying, “Well you’re young, so it shouldn’t be that hard.”

Do you think that we need to be concerned about weight and how it may affect our perception at work? Of course, there are health benefits to staying in shape, but could it also have a significant impact on your career?

Well, there are a bunch of studies showing that being overweight can indeed impact your professionally, particularly at the hiring stage and particularly for women. My hunch is that 15-20 pounds won’t trigger that effect (but maybe that’s my own wishful thinking? because let’s all say hello to my new middle-aged metabolism). But if you’re feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, that matters, and I think that might be more likely to impact you professionally than the actual weight. That’s the part that I’d say to focus on — not what your coworkers might or might not think of you jumping up a size or two.

2. New hire accepted the job, called out with an injury, and hasn’t been heard from since

I am fairly new to management and work for a family company (a winery). Most of my hiring has been straightforward, and I haven’t had to deal with any situations like this yet and am a little flummoxed about how to move forward.

I recently offered a position to a new candidate, who accepted and set up a start date. When the person was due to come in for their first day, about a half hour before their shift, I got an apologetic email about a medical emergency (ankle sprain), but they did not specify if they still wanted to work with us. I followed up with a phone call and left a voicemail wishing her well and discussing the position, and also sent a an email with the same information. I have given her a couple of days to get back to me (and the weekend), but have not heard back yet. How much time am I allowed to let pass before I put out a new job posting and look for other candidate?

You can do that right now. Giving her a couple of days to get back to you is reasonable; depending on how bad the injury was, it’s possible that she was on painkillers and had her hands full with figuring out how to adjust to being one-footed. But I don’t think anyone who really wanted their new job would let it go longer than two days without getting back to you. Her silence is telling you what you need to know here.

I’d contact her once more and say something like, “Since I haven’t heard back from you, I’m assuming that you’re no longer interested in starting the job. I’m going to reopen the hiring process, but please let me know if I’ve misinterpreted.” And then yes, start talking to other candidates right away. If she does end up getting back to you after that, it’s reasonable to probe a bit about what happened, since if what happened is just that she has a really cavalier attitude about the job, you probably want to stick to looking at new candidates.

3. Should I resign while I’m away on my honeymoon?

I have been with my current employer, a small nonprofit, for two years. My boss and I are the entire staff and we are heading into the end-of-year push. It’s been a really hard year for our organization and there are a lot of balls in the air, even without the added stress of getting through December.

I’ve been interviewing elsewhere for several months, and early last month had a very promising meeting with a local company. I was hoping to have an offer in hand from them by the end of October, but circumstances aligned so that my formal offer arrived last night–two days into my two-week honeymoon. It’s a good offer, and I’ve accepted it. The new company has told me that I can start anytime from the Monday I return to town to a week or two later.

I would prefer to send my current boss my notice as soon as I can; today, if possible. She is unlikely to take the news well, and it’s unlikely she’ll be able to replace me before the new year, let alone in a two or three week notice period. By giving my notice today, she and the board can at least get that process started as soon as possible.

Would it be appropriate to send her my resignation while I’m on vacation? The more time they have to work on getting someone into the place, the better, but it feels a little disingenuous to resign while I’m away.

Yes, you should. It’s not ideal, but telling her ASAP is the higher priority than telling her in-person. When you email, just say something like, “I’m so sorry to tell you this over email, but the alternative was waiting until I returned, and I wanted to let you know as soon as possible. I’ll of course plan to meet with you the first day I’m back to discuss transition plans, but meanwhile thought I needed to give you an early heads-up.”

4. Job searching while living overseas

I am a U.S. citizen currently living in the UK. I may be returning to the U.S. soon, and am a bit nervous about trying to land on my feet when I get back.

While I have a job currently, it took a long time to find work. Prospective employers weren’t willing to contact references on another continent and I worry this will happen again. I’m also concerned about the employment gap working against me.

In addition, I moved to the UK as the spouse of a citizen. I’m really uncomfortable bringing up my marital status in interviews, but it seems unavoidable as that is why I left in the first place. I’m not really sure how to sell myself and would appreciate any advice you can give on job searching after living abroad!

Yeah, the reality of this is that unless you’re dealing with companies that are very used to hiring from overseas, many employers aren’t going to bother contacting you unless you’re an unusually outstanding candidate, because they won’t want to deal with the hassle (real or perceived) of interviewing you from afar, contacting references, etc.

So that leaves you with some limited options: be an unusually outstanding candidate, focus on companies that do a lot of overseas hiring and/or where your UK experience will be a strong plus, or lean even more heavily on networking than you would normally. (Another option is to wait until you’re back here before launching a serious search, but that may not be realistic.)

5. How to talk about training people successfully

Part of my work includes training all new incoming teammates. My department is considered the best place for other teams to go hunting for new talent, and recently several of the people I have trained have been selected for high-profile promotions. Another one is being eyed with intensity. I take a lot of pride in the fact that my trainees do so well at my company.

The trouble is, I feel a bit “motherish” in this accomplishment; “Look at my babies go!” How can I showcase this success in interviews, reviews, and elevator pitches in a more professional way?

“I love training people and invest a lot of thought into how to set them up for success. The people I train frequently go on to high-profile projects and promotions and generally thrive into our company.”

That’s just a start, though. You could strengthen this by talking specifically about whatever it is you do that’s producing such successful outcomes.

{ 267 comments… read them below }

  1. Danielle

    OP #4–I recently had a similar situation! I had moved to a different US region (~800 miles away) because of marriage, then moved back due to divorce. During my job search I handled it by saying that I wanted to be closer to my family-which wasn’t entirely untrue.

    However, I will say that I’m a young professional, very early in my career. I’m skeptical that line would work as well for someone more established professionally, but I’m throwing it out there-just in case!

    1. Lizzie

      I recently did the opposite – moving from US to UK. Once I knew my approximate move date I started applying for jobs about 2 months ahead of my move. I was sure to briefly explain my situation in my cover letter (and in some cases in a short blerb at the top of my resume). I said something along the lines of ‘Relocating to UK on XYZ Visa status due to a family move.’ People were curious, but I was honest in saying I was moving due to my husband’s job, and everyone was completely understanding. I was also upfront that my visa status is currently good for 3 years, but could be renewed.

      I didn’t find any major issues, except when my visa was delayed by a week or two and delayed my move date, which seems unlikely to be the same for you. Companies that wanted to speak with me did so over Skype before the move, and I had interviews lined up by the time I landed. Fortunately though I work in a niche industry that is really growing in the UK, so I was somewhat in demand having US experience.

      If you are up front and professional about the situation, and are able to provide options for employers (contacting references via email, or helping to facilitate time differences) you should be OK. As for the marital status, just plainly state the situation and move on. People move due to spouse relocation often, so it shouldn’t be so different than moving to the west coast from the east coast. Just be aware that it will be easiest once you know your arrival date – I missed a couple of opportunities because I wasn’t yet in the country. I found a great job and they completely understood my situation and I think it really showed the culture of the company too.

      Good luck!

      1. DVZ

        I moved from the US to the UK and even as a dual citizen without any visa issues to contend with, I found it impossible to job search to be honest. I imagine that if you are working in a really niche industry or are really high up/in demand then it’s much easier, but I was only 2 years into my career at that stage and I wish that I hadn’t wasted time searching for jobs from abroad. Obviously it really depends on your financial situation and what you can afford to do, but it was really just a logistical nightmare and a pretty disheartening experience. I wish I’d focused on my move/personal stuff and arrived with a clear head ready to job search effectively rather than stressing myself out. It’s hard enough to search without worrying about time differences, international calls, explaining your situation, etc. I think that as job seekers we already feel like there’s an imbalance of power in these situations and being abroad made it so much clearer, and that was pretty stressful. If you can afford the employment gap, I’d take it, as employers will understand it’s different than just randomly taking time off. You are allowed to take a break to move across the world!

      2. Biglaw Stormtrooper

        Do you mind if I ask what field you are in? I have lived in the UK before and would love to move back, but I’m not optimistic about my ability to make the move with my current qualifications.

    2. NerdyCanuck

      I could be wrong, but I expect the “closer to family” line might just get read differently depending on age – maybe getting coded as “to take care of/be closer to ageing parents” from someone who’s a bit older?

  2. Jerry Vandesic

    #3, in addition to following Alison’s great advice, you need to give your existing employer a full two weeks notice from the time you get back into the office. The clock does not start until you return. Your new employer will have to wait until your professional obligations wrap up with your current boss.

    1. YaH

      Errrm, no. OP’s employment with his/her current employer ends on the date that is specified in the resignation notice, as in “my last date of employment will be ___”. (Unless the current employer decides to end the relationship sooner”.

      1. Artemesia

        I would agree that the OP owes two weeks notice from return. Usually people are not allowed to take vacation during the notice period because the goal is to ease the transition and in this case where it is going to be tough,it is particularly important to document things and just generally get things organized for the boss during transition and to make the new hire’s entry as smooth as possible. It is unprofessional to give less than two weeks notice or at least make the offer starting from the return.

        1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

          I would also say that knowing the OP works at a non-profit and they are going into their year-end push, she really should consider offering two full weeks upon her return.

    2. Mabel

      I agree with Jerry. Of course the OP doesn’t HAVE to stay two weeks past the date s/he returns to the office, but it’s the norm, and it’s considerate. I once had someone resign and then tell me she was going to take two weeks of vacation (starting two days later) and use that as her notice period, so I got 1.5 days’ notice. She sounded very excited about having everything all wrapped up, and as you can probably tell, it still makes me mad – especially because we had given her all kinds of leeway because she had a sick parent. I really felt taken advantage of (and now that I’ve read on AAM that some companies don’t allow vacation to be taken during one’s notice period, I don’t know why my company allowed it).

      1. Random Lurker

        Longtime lurker here.

        I’ve been in a similar situation and yeah, it made me mad. But, the grass isn’t greener when you say “no”. My current employer has flex PTO so we don’t accrue days off. I had a direct report request PTO for several days this month, which I granted some time ago. He just gave notice 2 days ago and his notice period was inclusive of his requested PTO. HR refused to honor the PTO so I had to give him a choice of canceling his PTO, or last day would be before his PTO started (leaving me with 3 days to transition). He canceled his planned PTO. I personally would have let it go, but I understood where HR is coming from. Anyhow, telling a resigning employee they have to be in the office I don’t think really is going to help much with the transition. Now he’s bitter, and less incentivized to help me with a smooth transition. I’m not convinced I’m getting anymore out of him than I would have if he went on vacation as originally planned.

        It’s a terrible situation people put you in when they don’t give you a proper 2 weeks. There’s no best way to handle these situations.

        1. Mabel

          In my situation, the employee burned a bridge with me. It wouldn’t have made me quite as angry if she had explained that she couldn’t give a whole two weeks because she needed time for blah, blah, blah… It still would have been unprofessional of her not to give two weeks’ notice, but it might have gone over better than her giddy excitement at moving on and appearing to be completely clueless that she was leaving us in a bad situation.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            This.

            I had an employee get an *incredible* job offer and due to the timeframe and a complex international move, he needed to give less than a two weeks notice. He was apologetic, solutions oriented, and incredibly upfront about what was going on. Yes, I would have loved to have had him for the full two weeks, but because of his attitude and honesty, he left on really, really good terms with everyone (even my boss who is usually one of those “how dare someone leave our amazing company” types).

    3. Blurgle

      This is the type of advice that makes my toes curl because I don’t believe that’s the case in an at-will environment – but it *is* the case in other environments.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I don’t think Jerry is saying there’s a legal obligation; of course there isn’t. But he’s right that the OP should have her final day be two weeks after she returns, not two weeks from today (which sounds like it’s perfectly possible to do, based on what she said about when the new employer wants her to start), if she wants to operate in the way that’s generally considered professional and responsible. Two weeks notice isn’t about your employer using that time to replace you; in most professional jobs, that’s a much longer process than two weeks. Rather, it’s about using that time to transition your work, which you can’t do if you’re away during the notice period.

        If for some reason it was truly impossible to do that, she could explain why, apologize profusely, and offer to do what she could after her return to wrap up/transition her work. But I’d be very wary of a new employer who refused to give her the time she needed to give a proper notice period.

        (I also assume the OP is planning to give that kind of notice, but just wanted her boss to be able to get as much of a head start as possible on planning.)

        1. Meg Murry

          Yes, I was also going to say that OP should give notice that her last day would be at least 2 work weeks from when she returned, not 2 weeks from the notice date. In fact, if this is a recent letter, I would be not so happy if I was the boss and one of those 2 weeks was (US) Thanksgiving if OP was going to take off for more than a day or two. In other words, if OP typically works a 5 day week, the standard “two weeks notice” should be close to 10 days that OP would work – so 8 or 9 days would be OK since there is a holiday in the mix, but less than that would not leave a good final impression.

          I do agree that OP is doing the right thing by notifying the boss now, instead of waiting until she gets back. As mentioned, that allows the boss and board to start on the hiring process, and means that the boss hopefully won’t set aside a bunch of mundane tasks to wait for OPs return, so OP can have those last 2 weeks to focus on wrapping up, documenting or handing over anything she has in process right now.

          1. CMT

            Okay, but at a certain point life happens and you just have to deal with it. And life happens around holidays. It seems mean-spirited to hold somebody’s holiday plans against them.

            1. fposte

              When it’s at the expense of co-workers and could be avoided with additional forethought, though, I think it’s fair.

              1. CMT

                If she had made Thanksgiving plans months ago and is only now getting the new job offer, it couldn’t really have been avoided. It sounds like the OP is being very conscientious of her current employer, but she can’t be expected to bend over so far backward that she snaps in half trying to ease the transition. And holding that against her is mean and spiteful.

        2. Blurgle

          Yes, but in other environments (ie. where I live) that two weeks actually *is* a legal obligation for anyone employed for over a year by the same employer. (Exceptions see made for certain specific industries, just cause as defined by statute, etc.)

          1. MK

            While I would be the last person to say the legal aspect doesn’t matter, I don’t blame people for using words in a pragmatic sense. No, in an at-will environment you aren’t legally obligated to give notice; but it is such a widespread cultural expectaction that, reallistically speaking, most people feel obligated to do so. Yes, in a not-at-will environment you are legally obligated to give notice, but since you can’t be physically forced to come to work, if you don’t give notice, the consequences depend on your employer, who might not bother to do anything about it.

            1. Audiophile

              In an at-will environment no one is obligated to give notice. The employer can end it at any point, as can the employee.

              1. Artemesia

                Most of us in the US work in an ‘at will environment’. It is still wrong to not give two weeks notice unless you literally have an employer who has burned people routinely when they do so.

                1. aaa

                  Why is it “wrong”? How many employers give two weeks’ notice when they are firing you? I mean, you could burn a bridge and should look out for that if it matters to you, but where is this sense of moral obligation coming from that you should owe your employer more than it owes you?

              2. cuppa

                That’s true in the legal sense, but if you leave without notice you will burn a bridge.
                I get that it’s weird. And in a lot of situations, if you quit to work for a competitor they won’t make you work your notice anyway. But, it’s a general custom (and it’s stated in my employee handbook).

            2. Meg Murry

              At this point, it is not about the legal obligation, it is about the future reference. I have seen people torpedo an otherwise good (or at least a solid “yes, she showed up every day and did what was asked of her” meets expectations but isn’t a superstar) reference for a few years of work by not giving adequate notice and leaving their employer in the lurch, which is what OP would be doing if she said “this is my 2 weeks notice while I’m gone on my honeymoon I’ll be in 2 weeks from now to pick up my stuff, kthanksbye.” Maybe not quite as bad as the former coworker I had who I would have highly recommended until he gave 2 weeks notice, and then the next day said “never mind, my last day is tomorrow”. It is just a poor last impression, and if anyone asked about him, I would honestly say “He was a great worker but then he quit and only gave 2 days notice”. It’s burning a bridge, and since in this case the ENTIRE company is OP and her boss, that means that:
              1) OP is going to have to use her as a reference for this job if any future employer wants to speak to someone at her most recent jobs (incredible common), since there is actually no other manager or even co-worker.
              2) The boss is going to have to pick up all the slack once OP leaves, since again, there is no one else.

              Don’t burn this bridge, OP, or anyone else who might be in this situation in the future. It’s not worth it compared to starting at the new company only 1 to 2 week later than they wanted – after all, they are the ones that didn’t get it together to make the offer to OP in October, as she had originally expected.

              1. Jerry Vandesic

                Great point. The most critical question in most reference checks is “Would you work with this person again?” You don’t want your boss saying no because you skimped on your notice period.

              2. fposte

                Right–I think people are muddying law and convention. The law doesn’t care if you give any notice at all. But presumably your bar for successful departure isn’t just not getting sued. If it’s to appear as a responsible professional to those who know you at that workplace and elsewhere, you really need decent justification if you want to depart from that convention.

                It’s not unusual for a convention to run deeper than law in some ways, and I think this is an example of one that does.

    4. SunnyLibrarian

      Yes. I have seen this play out in real life. A woman I know at a different business got married, went on her honeymoon and the day before leaving said “Oh by the way, this will be my last day.” That’s her prerogative. Later, when she wanted to apply at my business, the managers asked about her because we worked at the same business I used to work at. I asked one of my old colleagues. Guess who didn’t get an interview?

  3. Amber

    #1 I’ve been plus size for my entire professional career and I don’t think it’s hurt at all. Though I do think it helps to be comfortable in your skin and clothes no matter your size, that will help with confidence which will come across.

    1. weighing in undercover

      There are some jobs where I wish fitness, not weight, would be a factor. My significant other is a deputy and a criminal defendant once escaped from a neighboring court room by just hopping over the barrier and booked it out the door. His co-worker who was working that court room was over 400 pounds and pretty sedentary, he was winded before he got to the outside doors chasing the guy down. The escapee was caught in the parking lot by other deputies who heard the radio call about the situation. My significant other was a sedentary 340 pounds at the time and was also a deputy. The event spurred my S.O. to work on his fitness. He didn’t want to be spoken about the way his co-worker was. My S.O. is now about 275 and now has better stamina.

      1. blackcat

        I’ve known friends who were cops who had explicit fitness goals (not weight goals), such as being able to spring 100m in less than X time, being able to lift Y amount. It wasn’t ever a terribly high bar, but it was there. I’ve also been under the impression that these things are standard for firefighters, too.

        So it varies on the location.

        1. OK

          It depends. Career firefighters and resident firefighters (the ones that live at a station but are not paid) have rigorous fitness standards and tests they have to pass. The gear alone is 45lbs. And that’s just the turnouts, bunker pants, and boots.

          Volunteer firefighters dont have the same fitness standards. It can vary by area, our rural takes whoever wants to volunteer and there are some big, slow guys.

      2. Anonicorn

        I know that, at least in my dad’s case, firemen must have the physical capacity to wear all their gear and lift the weight of another person at the same time. I’m surprised something similar isn’t the case for law officers.

        1. Kelly L.

          I think there’s a physical test to join the police; I’m not sure what the upkeep requirements are, though.

          1. AJS

            Depends on the city or town–many used to have no requirements at all, although that seems to be changing.

            1. Elizabeth West

              I think federal agents have upkeep requirements; they certainly do on firearms training. My ex is a fed and he has frequent tactical training that there is no way he could do if he let himself get extremely out of shape.

      3. Anonymous fatty

        Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but this comment bothered me a bit. It’s not really pertinent to the question that was asked. It sort of seems like the mention of weight issues made you feel compelled to share this anecdote of one instance when a fat person performed his job poorly, as justification for discriminating against fat people or people who don’t appear to be “fit” (and there are plenty of people who aren’t overweight but might not be able to catch a runaway criminal).

        This is exactly the type of bias that can cause problems for fat people’s career advancement; you see or hear about a fat person applying for a job, and the first thing that comes to your mind is an example of a fat person failing on the job — which you attribute entirely to his weight. And this gives you misgivings about hiring fat people in general, because what if they need to chase someone? There are many jobs in which neither weight nor fitness is a factor in ability to perform the job.

        1. Not me

          The question was about whether weight could hold someone back at their job, and this was one (extremely rare) case where it could. I think the point was that it shouldn’t hold someone back unless it is a real, physical impediment to the job.

          I do think weighing ~400 pounds and being unable to run miiight be related.

          1. Anonymous fatty

            The question was about how weight can affect the way we are perceived in the workplace. The OP did not mention any concerns about being incapable of performing her job duties due to her weight. She said she is a manager, and many management jobs do not require any degree of physical fitness to perform the job.

            Perhaps this particular guy’s weight was related to his inability to catch the criminal, but there are many other reasons someone might not be able to run — a sprained ankle, arthritis, MS, asthma, a bad cold, cancer, etc. A thin person can be just as sedentary and out of shape as a 400-pound person, and a sick, injured, or disabled person can have just as many physical limitations as a fat person, and so any number of people would be unable to catch a runaway criminal on any given day. The difference, though, is that you can see and judge a person’s weight much more easily than you can detect these other limitations.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      I’ve been chunkier for quite a few years now. I’m tall, which makes it either better or worse because frankly, a pretty physically imposing woman. :-)

      Dress has so much to do with it. If you gain weight and don’t up the sizes you are wearing, you look sloppy. That’s the biggest mistake I see people who gain weight make, not dressing properly for their new body size, both in actual size and also in the most flattering choices.

      1. MK

        That is usually because they hope they will lose the weight fairly soon and don’t want to invest in a new wardrobe that might be useless in a couple of months. Especially if, like in my case, their old clothes still basically fit, althought they don’t look as polished with the added weight.

        The current fashion of oversized-everything helps a little: true, it’s not particularly flattering, but the clothes don’t look ill-fittng either.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Team that in this way: I have, true story, an entire hall closet filled with clothes going down to size 4. I am 5′ 10″. I wore size 4 for about 15 minutes 20 years ago but I sure bought a frickload of that size for the time I fit into them.

          But, you don’t need that many basic clothes for a work wardrobe. Get at least a few basics that flatter the size you’re in now if your concern is looking professional and weight gain not being a thing to hold you back.

          (I probably have more size 4 from 20 years ago than I have clothes in my current wardrobe. :-) )

          1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

            My problem is more that my weight varies week by week by up to half a stone – and all of the clothes which don’t look baggy in a low week are definitely uncomfortably tight and bulgy in a high week. Combined with a really odd body shape, I find it nearly impossible to find any one garment that always fits, but unfortunately I can’t afford to cater all colours/styles to my body’s random whims.

            I think this is one of those situations where ideally, and over time, people build up enough of a wardrobe to accommodate any and all mad fluctuations, and find different ways of bringing clothes together into an outfit for different situations. But it’s going to take most people a lot of time, so I also don’t think it’s fair to hold it against someone that they haven’t got to that point yet.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

              I’m not in the industry/environment where people have points added or subtracted for weight…teapot folk aren’t the judgy type, so it’s not about people holding it against someone.

              It’s about the perception of control, power and all around “she’s got it together” look. If someone consistently wears ill fitting clothes, she won’t give the perception of together or in control. A former size 0 who puts her size 4 body into her previous 0 clothes would look just as “not together”.

              1. BananaPants

                This is very true. I have a plus-size colleague (actually bigger than I am) who’s way into fashion and makeup and she looks way more put-together than I do. I look so frumpy all the time in comparison. I think that a size 20 woman who looks great in her outfit and is well-accessorized and has a good hairstyle and maybe some makeup is going to give off a more confident and capable attitude than a size 6 woman whose clothes are ill-fitting, wrinkled, or obviously outdated.

                I’m trying but it’s not easy. I’ve spent my entire adult life in dockers and a polo shirt, making the mistake of thinking that if I did a good job no one would care so much that I’m not a fashion plate. For the last several years we haven’t had the money to expand my wardrobe – we still really don’t right now but I can occasionally buy something. I’m working on a capsule wardrobe at the moment in hopes that smart accessorizing will cover up that I’m buying cheap pants/shirts/skirts/etc. while I’m working on losing weight.

                1. Avery

                  BananaPants, I had a subscription to missussmartypants.com for a few months and it was very helpful. I think it was around $15 for three months, and I got a guide on how to choose clothes for my body type, a guide on how to build a basic work wardrobe, a weekly article on topics like how to layers clothes for winter, and a weekly shopping guide for my body type. I don’t think I ever bought anything from the shopping guides, but they were helpful in giving me ideas of what to look for at thrift stores.

                2. Mabel

                  I’m on a tight budget, so I’ve been buying clothes at thrift stores ever since I moved to my current city, and I’ve generally been able to find nice pants, dresses, and tops (that I get compliments on, so I know they don’t look second-hand). The thrift stores I’ve been to have clothes in a wide variety of sizes. Every now and then I buy something at Marshalls or a higher-end second-hand store, and it’s nice to be able to get – for example, a nice pair of high quality wool pants for $35. I gained a few pounds over the summer, so I can relate to not wanting to buy anything new in a larger size! But I really do want to look put together, so I’ll probably get a couple of cold-weather items that fit better.

                3. Elizabeth West

                  Same here. I have quite a few plus-size coworkers and there is one woman I have never seen looking anything less than amazing. She has WAY more fashion sense in her little finger than I do in my entire body. (It has nothing to do with her size; it’s just that she likes clothes, accessories, etc.) If I ever had enough money to buy a whole new wardrobe, I want to take her with me because I need her help!

                4. JuniorMinion

                  Ooooh talbots clearance outlet if there is one near you or tjmaxx. I literally got all my work pants at talbots clearance outlet for $9.99 per pair. Its also heavily discounted regular store stuff largely (they have a small outlet collection). I got a bunch of stuff on the clearance rack at tjmaxx / nordstrom rack as well.

                  Also payless for shoes – they do some really comfy ones that look very professional (and come in wide!!) for a really good price.

                  I got some great sweaters additionally at the target 2 for 1 sweater sale.

                  Seriously though. I work in an industry that puts the hoity in hoity toity (think rows of men in ferragamo loafers) and the only feedback I have ever gotten on my clearance clothes is that I “alway s look very appropriate / professional” In my experience value items look great as long as they are well kept, well fitted, and conservative / appropriate for the environment

      2. catsAreCool

        And whatever you do, don’t wear clothing that is obviously too small for you. People will notice that a lot faster than they’ll notice if you go up a size and get clothes that fit.

    3. Kelly L.

      Same here. I do think this can vary based on location and field–sadly, some cities and some industries may be more shallow about this–but for where I am and what I do, I don’t think anyone really gives a flying one. I also think it matters more in job searching than it does in the way you’re perceived while staying at the same job. I agree with the suggestion to get clothes that fit better, even if it’s just temporary and you get them at Goodwill. You’ll feel so much more comfortable without stuff digging in all day. I’ve noticed that most of the time when I “feel fat”–I mean, I’m always fat, I’m just not self-conscious about it constantly–it’s because my clothes are uncomfortable.

      Your co-workers are being annoying with their comments about it being easy to lose at your age, but I don’t think they mean that your weight bothers them; it *is* harder to lose when you’re older, so they’re just a little envious, as annoying as it is.

      1. INTP

        I agree that it matters more in searching than in your same job (unless it’s an image-conscious field, or the culture of your region or company is just into weight). Without getting too much into it, I’ve been on both extremes, and can see a definite difference in first impressions made while I’m thinner than larger. Polish (I buy clothes that fit and are on-trend, but don’t shop constantly when I’m larger than I want to be) and confidence might have something to do with it, but not everything. Obviously no one is being loud about it so I think it’s something that’s probably impossible to see unless you’ve been on both extremes. A job interview is definitely a first impression situation.

      2. MissDisplaced

        I’m definitely a plus now, and short too. I don’t think my weight had much to do with my getting hired anywhere, or the way I’m viewed in my job. However, the one area it does impact me is this: giving any type of presentation and avoiding photos!
        I’ve always been shy and hated to stand up in front of an audience of any type, but being older and heavier has compound this anxiety to the point of trying to avoid it altogether. I’m lucky it doesn’t happen often that I need to do so! The only thing I can say about if you do have to stand up and give a presentation, dress professionally and well, even if you have just ONE suit that is professionally tailored for you, it makes all the difference.

    4. LadyTL

      Honestly at the higher end of plus size, I find it really difficult to find professional looking plus size. Very few black slacks but lots of jeans, and stretch pants. There is also the problem of when you do find the right clothes alot of the time they are made very thin so they wear out very quickly and are very expensive to replace.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        After struggling for years to find nice plus-size clothes, I am now in love with Christopher & Banks. If you join their (free) rewards program, you get free shipping on every order, and they are great about returns. You also get a $10 rewards certificate for every $200 or $250 (not sure) you spend. Because I get free shipping, I’m not afraid to try something different; if it doesn’t fit, I just take it back to the store, and I haven’t lost $7.95 like I would with Avenue or Dressbarn.

        1. Liza

          Yes! I love CJ Banks too. Today only my shirt is from there, but most days my pants are too. :-) I especially recommend their “signature comfort” pants if they fit your body type. They’ve got elastic in the waistbands that works better than other elastic-waist pants I’ve seen. Oh, and they also often carry these button up shirts that have knit panels at the side, which are amazing–button up shirts usually look weird and unflattering on me, but the knit panels on these make them fit perfectly.

          They go up to 24W or 32W depending on the item; I don’t know if that includes LadyTL’s size or not, but if it is, I recommend trying their clothes. It’s also a good store for people who are on the border between plus sizes and regular sizes, because CJ Banks’ sister brand Christopher & Banks is usually on the other side of the same store and has very similar clothes in regular sizes, so you can go back and forth to try on both if you’re not sure whether you’re plus size right now or not.

          I don’t live near their stores anymore, sadly, but I still order from them online!

      2. The Carrie

        I use an online subscription service called Gwynnie Bee. It is especially for plus sizes, and you basically rent the clothes. Its easy to send them back in these little bags they give you that are addressed. If you like the clothes, you can purchase them for a discount. I end up trying a lot more interesting things because Im not buying them, and they fit well. I have a very long torso, and find that XL in things is usually too short, so this has been good.

        1. Sarah

          Yes, Gwynnie Bee is great – and it is a really nice way to experiment with different styles. Small quibble – a lot of their clothes are polyester and so can be warm if you live in a warmer region.

      3. Artemesia

        I am amazed at this but I think you are right. WHY pink stretch pants for very heavy people; they don’t look good on anyone but they particularly are not flattering for overweight women. Greys, blacks and browns as base layers with interesting textured jackets or drapey sweaters can look sophisticated and professional and look particularly good on larger people. But they are apparently not easy to find. And then we have Project Runway subjecting us to a ‘plus size collection’ that looked like the storeroom of K-mart coughed up the pastel crap that didn’t sell and didn’t flatter.

        I have a friend who is very professionally successful in a field with almost no jobs – journalism. She has done well as a free lancer and now has a management job with a niche on line magazine. She is overweight but dresses in black well cut clothes and projects authority — she doesn’t seem to have problems landing jobs and I think that is because she both projects competence and IS very competent in a unique niche even though it is an overrun field. Clothes that are simple and unobtrusive and perhaps a bit sophisticated coupled with yowza confidence will go a long way.

      4. Mander

        This one of my favorite rants. I’m fat, not completely lacking in a sense of style or ability to assess the quality of fabrics. I’d be willing to bet that the perception that fat = unprofessional has more to do with the lack of suitable clothing in accessible places than you might otherwise think.

        This is also why I dread getting a job where I can’t wear jeans. 90% of my wardrobe is jeans.

      5. MissDisplaced

        Talbots! Plus petite too.
        I’d recommend checking out the site Corporette as it’s a helpful resource for professional clothing of all sizes.

    5. HM in Atlanta

      I’ve been plus size my entire career. It has hurt my options several times, but only after I reached a certain level (and then only with strangers).

      1. Kelly L.

        Yeah–I think it affects job searching more than it affects your trajectory at the job you already have, if that makes any sense.

        1. LBK

          I’d agree with that. When you’re moving internally or even just being promoted within a department, the strength of your reputation and the connections you have to the people making hiring decisions can often outweigh (no pun intended) the impressions they may get from your appearance. That’s a harder balance to swing when you’re job hunting externally.

          1. Kelly L.

            Plus, when you see someone day in and day out, you don’t really notice gradual changes in their looks. My SO went gray over the last few years, and I only noticed it when he cut his hair shorter and suddenly thought “Why is he blond now that his hair is short?” It wasn’t blond.

                1. LBK

                  My SO pointed it out when he thought he saw that I had a grey hair – which I wouldn’t mind on its own because I think I could rock grey hair pretty well, but I’ll be mildly annoyed if I go grey before my face figures out how to grow a beard. If we’re going to do things early, let’s at least do them in order!

            1. Anxa

              I haven’t had a camera consistently for a long time (my phone doesn’t take pics and my digital camera broke), so I really hadn’t noticed how much my SO and I had aged in the past few years until I had to look on my computer for a picture of me for a website.

              Almost all of my pictures are group pictures or didn’t seem very professional (or too stuffy). So I had to really look for quite a few minutes and some were a few years old. So much new gray for him. So much less glowiness for me.

              (Also, I’m pretty firmly a millennial, and I literally couldn’t find a selfie and had to have my SO email me a pic he took of me from his phone)

    6. BananaPants

      I’ve had the opposite experience. I have a coworker who has the exact same educational background, work experience (at the same company, in similar roles), but I’ve bounced between a size 14 and size 20 for my entire tenure here and she’s a size 2. She’s been promoted faster and earns substantially more money than I do. We work in a male-dominated company and all of the handful of women in senior positions are average to slender in build. The same goes for all but one of the men in senior roles – there’s one guy who’s very large but he’s a definite outlier.

      My long term goal is to drop 60 pounds, at least getting back down to where I was when I was hired here. I feel I absolutely need to do this for a variety of reasons, and one of them is anticipating being on the job market in the next 3-5 years and not wanting my weight to be the reason I’m not getting offers.

      1. Anonymous in the South

        Same here. I have a coworker who has a fabulous personality, easy to work with and is well educated. She is probably 40 lbs overweight. She applied for a internal position (director of education) and an outside candidate got the job. The person who got the job is standoffish, difficult to work with and has the same education as the coworker. Most of her staff and staff from other departments have stated on more than a few occasions she is difficult to work with and she treats them almost contemptuously at times. I have witnessed and been on the receiving end of this.

        The external candidate was considered fit and healthy. She is always going on about Weight Watchers, working out, etc. I personally heard the executive director make several comments stating that he coworker did not get the job due to her weight. If you look at our company, all of the directors and most of the managers would be considered fit and healthy. I can honestly say that even if they are fit and healthy, they are not the best people for the job.

        Our company is a nonprofit that runs 3 local museums, a teacher resource center, radio station, local theater and has several corporate offices in our state and in a northern state. I find that weight determines how far up you go in all of our locations.

        1. neverjaunty

          That is so awful. As if being slender and talking about dieting automatically means “fit and healthy” and as if that is the #1 qualification for every job…

          1. Stranger than fiction

            Yes, it is awful. My example here is we have one manager who is overweight, but always looks professional and pulled together, has a ton of energy, and is never sick. Then, we have another manager who is younger and thin, but who has hereditary extremely high cholesterol and a tad bit of liver damage was noticed during one of her physicals a couple years ago. Sadly it will be a long time coming for us to realize as a society thin does not necessarily equal healthy.

            1. Anxa

              Yeah. I’m young, so cholesterol/triglycerides aren’t likely to be a big deal yet. But I really wanted to see if I could get any sort of a glimpse of what was going on because heart disease runs rampant in my family (where people are all thin, slim, or eventually small fat in old age). I get that maybe it’s just too early to look, but I had to beg for a cholesterol test and pretended I wanted to go on HBC to get the test.

              My friend with no family history was 5 years younger and was screened for high cholesterol, hypertension, high blood pressure, etc because she’s fatter. And wasn’t interested in that at all (was going in for an unrelated issue).

              1. MsChanandlerBong

                I’m glad you got tested. My genes stink when it comes to cardiac issues. My grandma died of a massive MI, and my dad had three heart attacks before the age of 50 (the first when he was 38). I’m 34, and I’ve already had one arterial blockage, so I’m currently rocking a drug-eluting stent and taking Lipitor daily. My cholesterol was never “high” (it was around 175), but they want it as low as possible due to my risk factors.

        2. Biff

          What? That’s horrible. They’ve SAID she didn’t get the job because of 40 pounds? That’s ridiculous no matter how I slice it. I understand if weight became a factor for some jobs (needing to fit into equipment, or physical labor or even at certain very large sizes, worrying about public perception) but 40 pounds is unlikely to be a big deal.

        3. INTP

          Ugh, another effect of the moralization of bodies (especially women’s bodies). See all the “fitspiration” crap on Pinterest where pictures of lean and scantily clad women are imbued with all sorts of qualities like dedication, hard work, not making excuses, etc, based on having a body type that meets a certain aesthetic ideal. (Looking like that isn’t about health or fitness. Any figure competitor will tell you that they are their weakest and least healthy when comp-ready.) When people buy into that, it results in imbuing people with more negative qualities the further they are from that ideal and makes them think things like that people without fit-looking (not necessarily fit) bodies are less capable or worthy of jobs.

        4. Avery

          Your executive director sounds like my dad. My academic achievements, creative talents, and loads of awesome friends never mattered because I was “fat”. “Fat” was 5’6″ and wearing a size 10-12 at age 16.
          My brothers were thin and sporty, and therefore worthy of approval. But guess who has the master’s degree and the management job? The “fat” girl, now an even fatter lady.

          I hope your coworker doesn’t let this jerk’s attitude hold her back and she gets a great director position from a different agency.

        5. MissDisplaced

          It’s even more terrible the executive director was making comments about weight being the factor in the hiring decision. People do have biases, but to broadcast it like that is so unprofessional.

    7. Lanya (AKA Camp Director Kim)

      I gained a lot of weight early in my career, but being plus size has not hurt my upward mobility so far. People seem to care more that I am good at what I do, than they do about the way I look. (And whatever they think to themselves privately, I don’t need or want to know!)

    8. beachlover

      It would be interesting to know if weight bias is also gender based. Are women expected to fit a certain expectation more than men? And I am not talking about positions that require certain fitness requirements to do their jobs.

  4. Sandy

    Is #4 a particularly US thing?

    I ask because my spouse recently ran a hiring competition for a mid level position, and for an Ontario-based job, he interviewed Canadian citizens living in China (1), Brazil (1), and Canada (1 from Nova Scotia, 1 from Quebec City, 3 from Ontario)

    And his job isn’t internationally-focused at all.

    1. MK

      I agree think it varies with the organization and has less to do with how internationally focused the work is than how usual it is to hire people from overseas. My sister was hired by a U.S. university in September while living in Europe; but there are a lot of people like her in her workplace, so obviously they were used to long-distance hiring.

    2. misspiggy

      Yes – in the UK public and nonprofit sectors at least, Skype interviews with overseas-based people are very normal.

    3. INTP

      It might be. I know that even in a field where much of the workforce is international, at small-medium companies we did not interview anyone currently overseas (unless you count Mexico, which was like 30 miles from our office). The US has over 300 million people, though, which might have something to do with it – we have access to a very large workforce without the hassles of overseas hiring. And in the EU, I know that work visas are not generally a problem when hiring from other EU countries, but they are in the US with pretty much every other country.

  5. Ann Droid

    #1 OP–I believe there are several professions where extra weight will help you get hired. “Helping” professions like teaching, nursing, counseling, and social work seem to appreciate people who look more like a mom, less like a fitness instructor. (There is no nonsexist way to say that.) I know I’ve lost jobs to lesser-qualified candidates with weight issues. In one case the employer was religious in nature, the job would require 1 to 1 contact with mostly young men, and the person who got the job was married and very dowdy looking.

    I remember when people got upset when Oprah first lost weight. They complained that she didn’t seem like “one of them” anymore.

    Unfortunately a woman’s appearance makes a difference no matter what.

    1. Aussie Teacher

      You can say you lost jobs to less-qualified candidates who had weight issues, but I don’t think you can assume they got the job solely based on the fact they were bigger than you! They may have had other skills or experience to bring to the table that you weren’t aware of, or their soft skills might have been better than yours, or they might have been a better cultural fit. Unless the hiring manager specifically told you you would have gotten the job if you were fatter, I don’t think you can assume that was the reason.

    2. Sarahnova

      ….I’m really not sure that you can be sure you didn’t get the job because you were insufficiently heavy (or, as you sort of seem to be implying, too attractive). Nor do I think this is supported, in any way, by the research that’s been done on hiring, weight, and perceptions of individuals. Frankly, how you can know you were more qualified without being the hiring manager is hard for me to understand.

      1. Kelly L.

        This.

        For specifically the religious employer, the other woman being married might well have been a factor, but I’m less sure her dowdiness was a deciding factor.

        1. Kelly L.

          (Addendum: this is not to attach a value judgment to being married in my eyes, but to say that some religious communities prefer married people, and might well have her husband involved in her work for a greater appearance of “propriety.”)

        1. Ann Droid

          *person’s bio

          Additionally, I was recommended by the person leaving the position and she was aware of (and disappointed with) their decision.

        2. fposte

          But was the only difference between you the weight difference? You were the same age, height, religion, school history, work history?

          Because otherwise I’m not sure why you’re thinking weight is the thing that mattered here, and how you’re thinking it has industry-wide implications.

      2. AnotherFed

        Given that we’re taking other people’s word on that they lost a job opportunity because they did not fit the slender body image desired in the role without questioning how they know for sure, why are we picking on this particular instance of not fitting the body image desired in the role?

        1. Kelly L.

          I think because (a) the comment appears to generalize about whole, multiple fields of work to an extent that I don’t really find probable, and (b) it goes against the grain of most of the research and of the biases that our culture generally has. Also, in some of the stories about fat people not being hired, the hiring manager explicitly said it was because they were fat, while there’s some ambiguity here where there may have been reasons the commenter didn’t know about.

          This is not to bash the commenter, but more to say that she might not need to feel as much of a sense of doom. I doubt all her future employers will have issues with thin people.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Because there is abundant evidence (i.e., peer-reviewed research) that hiring managers are biased in favor of thinner people, not against. And because common sense; we all know that the world favors thinner, fitter-looking people.

    3. Oryx

      Unless the company or hiring manager told you that you didn’t get hired because you’re not fat enough, I don’t think there’s any way for you to possibly know that. There are lots of other factors that could have gone into that decision and the fact that the person who was hired is heavier than you might just mean that they are heavier than you and nothing else.

      Sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar.

    4. Coffee Ninja

      I work in the education & mental health fields, and your assumptions are 1) wrong and 2) pretty offensive.

      1. Biff

        I don’t think it’s wrong, but I do think it is probably dependent on location.

        I don’t see how this is offensive.

        1. Coffee Ninja

          Generalizing that certain professions are ones “”where extra weight will help you get hired” or that they will only hire you if “you look like a mom” is a pretty rude thing to say.

          1. Oryx

            Yes. I know the commenter probably doesn’t intend for it come off as such, but saying something like “I really don’t qualify for People’s Most Beautiful list, but I was doing much better than anyone in the room” and then saying that the person who was hired is “dowdy” doesn’t come off as the most sympathetic.

            1. Ann Droid

              1) Those are misquotes Coffee Ninja.

              2) It’s not rude to say that it’s common knowledge that thin/attractive people get hired because they are thin/attractive. That’s just “the truth.”

              3) Think of someone you truthfully consider to be less attractive than you are. Now think of a sympathetic way to state that accurately. This is why it’s difficult to have conversations about appearances and advantages.

              How does anyone talk about comparative appearances without sounding ridiculously immodest?

              1. Brooke

                I don’t get the impression that you’re open to thinking about this a bit differently, Ann Droid. I don’t say this to criticize, necessarily… god knows I struggle with this myself.

                But to answer the question about how to talk about comparative appearances… I don’t find myself needing to do this much at all. The few exceptions are when the topic has already come up, like this AAM’s entry.

                1. Kelly L.

                  Yeah, it doesn’t come up for me much either, and it’s complicated by the fact that I don’t think appearance can really be measured objectively on a yardstick. It’s always a sort of alchemy between the way the person actually looks and the preferences, subconscious thoughts, etc. of the observer. I’ll say “more conventionally attractive” or “less conventionally attractive,” since there are types of looks that the majority likes, and we all know what these looks are because they’re on TV and in the movies. But there really aren’t any absolutes.

              2. Oryx

                “How does anyone talk about comparative appearances without sounding ridiculously immodest?”

                I don’t. There, simple.

                I don’t mean to be flippant but the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” As a heavier woman, yes, I will comment about objective appearance differences: she’s taller than me, she’s thinner than me. But beyond that, I don’t talk about if someone is prettier or more (or less) attractive than I am because it’s entirely subjective.

    5. LBK

      I think your concept is sound – I agree that it’s not always just the most attractive woman who gets the bonus points but rather one that fits a certain image associated with the role (and that does definitely happen to men as well, but not to the same extent). But I don’t think you can extend that reasoning to therefore assume that’s why you didn’t get those positions any more than you could for any other kind of role.

      Could it have been a factor? Sure, but they also could’ve had experience in particular skills that were more important for the role, or they could’ve had absolutely knockout interviews, or their personality just meshed better with the hiring manager’s, or they could be the owner’s sister so they were always going to get it no matter what. I think it’s okay to be aware that appearance is often a factor in hiring, but to assume it’s the only factor that mattered when you don’t get a job is just as damaging as the people who use it as a factor to begin with.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        “I agree that it’s not always just the most attractive woman who gets the bonus points but rather one that fits a certain image associated with the role …” = well put, and so very true.

      2. Anxa

        I like your comment on this. I think it’s very rare that extra weight, especially on women, would give them an advantage. But it may contribute to them fitting an expectation.

        I applied in person to a restaurant once and was told straight up, “you look way too nice for this job.” Nice as in sweet, not pretty. I could see it. I was wearing light blue or pink or something (I’m blonde) and a longer skirt. Very ‘springy.’ The uniform was a formfitting black t shirts and most of the staff straightened their hair and looked a little edgier.

        They actually changed the position I was interviewing over this. I actually was pretty excited, because it would have been a better fit. I didn’t get the job, but I think I interviewed fine.

        Another time I walked into a restaurant I got the job. It was summer, I dressed modestly but a little sexier. I had my sunglasses on instead of my glasses. Well, when I actually started working I was wearing dowdier pants (I was super broke and couldn’t go buy new ones) to fit the uniform. I wasn’t wearing shorts (I don’t wear shorts much at all). I think they were disappointed in how much less hot I was on the job then in the interview. I think it was a contributing factor to not being a good fit. I was in the group the was cut after opening week.

      1. Ann Droid

        Appreciate everyone’s comments, but I have run this past several people in my field and they agree with me, as I was recommended by the person leaving the position, and the candidate chosen had no relevant experience, and we just know how this field tends to work. I fielded at least three separate questions during the interview that seemed to be designed to figure out if I were married. Let’s just say that the religion in this case is one that has been on the receiving end of numerous extremely high profile sexual scandals. I don’t think this was any real statement about me. In their position, I might have done the same thing.

          1. Kelly L.

            (And I could see, actually, a specific employer intentionally not hiring conventionally “hot people” right after a scandal, but I just don’t think that necessarily carries over to all employers.)

            1. Ann Droid

              The original question was–does weight hurt? I think the answer is it hurts in some cases and helps in others.

              I knew someone who was morbidly obese and had several health issues. It definitely hurt in his case. No one wanted to hire someone who might not be alive in five years.

              We shouldn’t assume that thin always conjures up positive images or thoughts, because that’s not true. You don’t know what you’re walking into in a hiring situation.

          2. Ann Droid

            After some thinking, I’ve decided to reveal a few more details. This position was working in a Catholic seminary. The person leaving the position recommended me for the position. Neither of us are Catholic. She’s married. I’m not. I was not interviewed by a traditional hiring manager, but rather by a panel of people from the seminary, some of whom were priests. I really don’t qualify for People’s Most Beautiful list, but I was doing much better than anyone in the room. I probably do not look like the best poster child for the cause of celibacy.

            This was at the height of the child-molestation scandal, and the Church certainly didn’t need a story to hit the media of a teacher-student relationship at one of their seminaries.

            I know my own heart and mind and where I draw lines. But I do have to imagine, in retrospect, what might have happened if a seminarian had made advances (no matter how innocent) to me. I don’t think anyone wanted to find out.

            Through the outgoing teacher who recommended me and the seminary’ see site, we found out more about the person they had chosen. She had some semi-related experience, but no direct experience in the field, and yes, she kinda looks like your grandma.

            I think they did what they felt they had to do. I might have done the same thing, although I would have dug a little deeper on the qualification side.

            I’ve also seen a real bias against male theater teachers in my area because there’s been a few too many public scandals involving them. There seems to be a certain physical profile of person being hired into that kind of position now. I don’t think it’s deliberate. I think it’s a subconscious reaction. I think a lot of hiring is subconscious.

            1. Kelly L.

              Interesting–I was expecting it to be something like Bill Gothard, where the scandal was about the abuse of teen and adult women, and where I could see a more obvious connection to hiring less conventionally attractive women.

              1. Ann Droid

                As I sat in a lobby waiting for my interview, a priest walked into the lobby, literally screaming about living in a world where priests had to be fingerprinted. Believe me, they were on very high alert.

        1. Anonacademic

          Sounds like a very specific set of circumstances that doesn’t scale to a more general observation like in your initial post.

          1. Ann Droid

            I think that the general principle is true. If your org has a big drug bust, I would bet the next bunch of people it hires will look more conventional–no tattoos, piercings, strange hairstyles, etc., even though that wouldn’t be at all predictive of actual drug use.

            1. pieces of flair

              OK, but what your original post said is that a wide variety of industries prefer to hire fat people. I guess what you actually meant is that there are specific circumstances in which specific companies might be reluctant to hire a conventionally attractive, single woman? Those don’t sound the same at all.

              1. Ann Droid

                My words were “will help you get hired.” I don’t mean that in a conscious way. I think subconsciously, there’s a general tendency (with exceptions) to associate heaviness with a more warm, nurturing personality (mostly for women) that is less sexualized than thinness. I think that’s the general media image, and a reason why Oprah’s fans became so upset when she lost weight. Here was a woman who showed that thinness and conventional beauty weren’t necessary for success, and she went to looking like every other sexy movie star they couldn’t relate to. (I watched the episode where she talked about this and took audience questions. It was very interesting. There was a true sense of betrayal that was difficult to fans to articulate.)

                I think it’s part likability, and part looking like the kind of person who can establish rapport in a role that requires it, but not look overtly sexual. I think hiring professionals can potentially favor this image without being aware of it, and that could help an overweight candidate.

                I believe that the seminary’s decision not to hire me was probably pretty conscious. After all, several people involved in the descision making process had been seminarians at one time, and having done this job for a while, I admit their fears are legitimate. I’ve had a number of students approach me for date-like activities. They’re lonely and stressed and confused about life in general, and you seem to be their advocate, and hey you’re not married, right? I always turn them down, but it gets awkward.

                However, I think there are number of appearance-related factors that influence hiring professionals subconsciously, and not always they way we think they would. If your extra twenty makes a potential boss feel better about her own extra forty, then you might have an advantage.

                1. Ann Droid

                  Basically, I am trying to counter the idea that heaviness is always perceived negatively and is always a disadvantage, while thinness is always perceived as positive and advantageous. The opposite is true as well.

        2. Beth

          Sometimes a recommendation from the person leaving can do more harm than good if their judgment is suspect for some reason, or even if it helps the references for the other candidates may hold more weight for some reason – content of the reference, person giving the reference.

    6. Anonymous fatty

      If the dowdy-looking women were, in fact, hired for their dowdiness, I think it’s likely that the way they dressed was more of a factor than their weight. It is quite possible for thin women to look motherly or dowdy by wearing conservative, loose-fitting, non-trendy clothes, but fat women are more likely to dress this way than thin women.

  6. Blue Anne

    #4, I don’t have a lot of practical advice but I just wanted to give you a hug. I’m American but have lived in the UK since 2007 and am currently on a marriage visa. It’s pretty scary sometimes thinking that my ability to stay in the country I think of as my home depends on my ability to make my marriage work. I hope that you’re doing okay and that you will land on your feet. All the best.

    1. OP #4

      Thank you so much for that! My relationship is pretty good most of the time, I am just in visa limbo at the moment and am not particularly confident about meeting the income requirements so I can stay. I appreciate the kind words though.

      1. Mander

        Man, I feel for you both. I was lucky to become a UK citizen before all that income crap came into effect. It’s just ridiculous. I wish you both luck in staying if that’s what you want to do!

      2. CAinUK

        OP4 – hugs! I understand. I moved to the UK on a spousal visa (and managed to line up a job before arriving) and then moved back to the US (and also managed to line up a job). I am the exception, not the norm, BUT one of the commentors above outlined the best strategy: set a move date you could acheive (say, two months out) and then use that date in your cover letter and resume (“Returning to US on January 5, 2016”). That was how I landed interviews ahead of time.

        Re: income guidance. The rules were slightly changed and last I looked you can claim your spouse’s salary or yours or a combo (so it doens’t have to just be YOUR income to meet the requirement) – hope that hleps!

  7. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady

    There are so many US companies that are literally frightened of calling overseas. They have removed the ability to make international calls from company phones, and even if that exists, no one actually knows how to dial an international number.

    3 times I’ve been contacted by 3 different NPR shows, asking me to be on the air and then they’ve freaked out when I said I’m in Switzerland. My favorite was when they contacted me about an article that I wrote, but when I said I lived in Switzerland, the host said, “We need someone who actually understand the situation.” Because, clearly, where my behind is nullified what I had written.

    That said, it’s no big deal to mention that you moved for a spouse’s job. Most people are married. It’s doubtful they’ll discriminate against you for that. Second, target global companies, especially those that have a presence in England. They’ll be less freaked out by the concept of international calls. Third, provide email addresses for your references.

    Whenever one of my former employees needs a reference from me, I tell them to give out my email address and I’ll call the reference checker. It reduces stress. If your references love you as much as I love my former employees, they might do that for you.

    1. Sarahnova

      Wow, really?! Man, I thought it was scary enough how few Americans have passports, but many US companies struggle to make an overseas call?!

      I have to call the US all the time because I have several client stakeholders in New York. Now that I think about it, they’ve *never* called me.

      1. Al Lo

        Tangentially, a relative (in the US) asked me while back what the cost of the Canadian passport is. I had to stop and think about it, because to me a passport is like car registration, as opposed to car insurance. It’s a cost of living that you don’t have any way to shop around for. The cost just is what it is, and in Canada, at least, the only way to save money on it is by the length of passport you get (10-year passport < 2 x 5-year passport).

        The thing that really baffled me was that this particular aunt had lived in South America since years ago, but for whatever reason hadn't kept her passport current, even after living abroad.

        1. MK

          Eh, is the cost of a passoport significant in the U.S. and Canada? In my country it’s something like 70 euros for a 5-year passport.

          That being said, if you never travel abroad, it makes little sense to get one. I always have a valid passport, but I travel at least once a year.

          1. BRR

            A new passport is $135 for a new passport that’s good ten years I think. For how long it’s good for that’s not terrible in my opinion but since you have to pay it all at once it’s something to stop and think about. And while I’m pro international travel and the US definitely doesn’t have everything, there’s a lot to be offered traveling domestically.

            1. Retail Lifer

              I had to get a passport for the first time in my life (I’m 39) because we had a couple hour stop in British Columbia on an Alaskan cruise. It was a lot of money for something I’m unlikely to ever use again.

            2. Sara

              Yeah, it’s not really that much, but when money’s tight, $135 is a lot. I got my first passport when I was 14 and didn’t let it lapse until I was 28 – and that was only because it came up for renewal while I was in grad school and my fiance was unemployed, and we needed that money for groceries more than we needed it for me to be able to go abroad (with what money?).

          2. olympiasepiriot

            Just renewed my kid’s passport in the US. Passport was $85 + other fees and photo came to $120 total. Children’s passports are only good for five years.

            I keep our passports current as they are more useful than other ids for lots of other things. More efficient. I frequently have to present an assortment of backup for work-related ids or permissions unless I’ve got a passport and then it is just one (plus the security background check). With my kid, I don’t have to carry around his birth certificate, getting it dog-eared, to take a plane to Minneapolis.

            Plus, having it available keeps options more open when opportunities come up.

            1. Judy

              My kids have been traveling by plane since before they were 3 months old, since one set of grandparents lived a 24+ hour drive away. We traveled with them before I returned from maternity leave each time.

              I’ve never had to show any ID for them at the airport. Usually the TSA folks will ask simple questions. “What’s your name?” “Where are your Mom & Dad taking you?” I’m pretty sure TSA does not require ID for under 18 when flying domestically. (They do have the same last name and address as my husband and I. I and my husband have also flown alone with the kids without any issues.)

              1. olympiasepiriot

                I’ve always been asked for his ID. Domestically, I don’t produce it until asked. I also make sure I have a letter of consent to travel from his father. Maybe we just look really, really suspicious.

                I prefer to be prepared because hanging around while someone runs a database or asks a supervisor is a p.i.t.a. and stressful.

                Very occasionally, due to things I may contact in my job, I arrange to get searched and cleared through security separately from everyone else. I know how deep the security rabbit hole can go, so, passports all around.

                1. AnotherAlison

                  My husband’s uncle runs into a lot of problems when traveling with his grandson. His son (the child’s dad) is deceased, and the child’s mom is a drug addict, but the grandparents do not have formal custody. I think they have to have a birth certificate, death certificate, and letter of consent from the mom. The only thing that helps a little is that they have the same last name.

              2. Turanga Leela

                Kids don’t need ID to fly domestically with their parents, and the TSA doesn’t require any when kids fly alone (although some airlines do). If you leave the country, though, you need a passport for a child of any age, including an infant.

                I traveled by myself a lot when I was a young teenager, before I had a driver’s license. Having a passport was nice even for domestic travel—some TSA and airline employees don’t know the rules and will ask for ID even if it’s not required.

                1. olympiasepiriot

                  And it is *really* annoying to deal with an official standing between you and whatever (like a departing plane) who doesn’t know the rules. Makes me want to channel George Carlin. (Search youtube for “Carlin” and “Airport Security” if you don’t know what I’m referring to.)

              3. VG

                I’ve never had to show ID for my daughter either, although she does have a passport that I bring along just in case. Her other parent is deceased, so if I were leaving the country with her I’d need to have the death certificate in addition to her passport (I also had to submit a death certificate to get the passport in the first place) but for domestic travel no one seems to care. Even on school trips that have involved flying, she’s only needed her school ID, which has her name and the school’s name, but not much else.

          3. Artemesia

            Passports have gotten pricey; we paid well over $100 when we renewed ours recently in the US. We ran into Canadians who had their passports stolen in Budapest when we were in Prague. It cost them $1000 for the emergency replacement overseas or so they said. They had all their money (thousands changed at home for the whole trip), their cards, wallets, passports, and their professional quality cameras stolen from a locked locker at the Budapest baths where they went on their arrival since their luggage had not made the flight. A dumb choice — and it really left them in a bind.

            1. dancer

              I think that’s because they were overseas and needed it in a rush. The 10 year passport in Canada costs $160, and the 5 year $120. They tack on additional fees if you’re applying from out of the country and for expedited service.

      2. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady

        I don’t think it’s scary how few Americans have passports. Most people don’t leave the country very often. It’s a huge pain to get one and it costs money. Unless you live close to Canada or Mexico, you’re going to have to fly. To get to Europe is expensive and time consuming. There’s tons to see and do in the US.

        By contrast, in Switzerland, where I live, I can literally walk from my house to Germany and France. I grocery shop in Germany about once a month, and I don’t even own a carIf I want to go to the beach, I have to leave the country. If someone from Holland wants to ski, she has to leave the country. (Presumably, I haven’t actually checked!) In the US? There is skiing and beach, desert and swamp. No need to leave home.

        1. Saly Ann

          You definitely have to leave Holland to ski! Practically the whole country is entirely flat :) However it’s very close to lots of other countries with varied topography.

        2. Sarahnova

          It’s not that I think this is a failing on the part of individual Americans; I’ve lived in the US, I do understand how big it is and that international travel is out of many people’s budget range. My concern is more on the cultural level, that I think this can lead to many people’s perspective being very inwardly focused and there being a lack of understanding of the world outside North America.

          1. Sarahnova

            And I think that was kind of reflected in the comment by the NPR manager you experienced, Suzanne. I’m not equating him with all Americans, obviously, but isn’t it a little worrying that the idea that someone living in Switzerland had something useful to say blew his mind?

            1. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady

              3 different times from 3 different NPR shows. Incidentally, their producers had no problem with it–it was the hosts who didn’t like the idea.

              I just found it so hilarious that the one show found a different person to discuss an article that I had written because I couldn’t possibly understand my own article. So amazingly stupid.

              That said, I still love lots of NPR shows. I listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell me and This American Life faithfully. WWDTM takes calls from all over the globe. They are smart.

              1. Artemesia

                LOL Reminds me of reading about the woman who was mansplained her own book which the mansplainer cited as he tried to enlighten on the topic (being unaware that SHE was the expert he was referencing in the ‘new research on the subject.’) I am frankly shocked that this would be the case at NPR where you would expect a little sophistication.

                1. Oryx

                  Agreed. I wonder if it was a show like Morning Edition which is national or something produced at the local station level.

            2. Traveler

              I don’t think its surprising that Americans would hesitate to think foreigners could completely grasp things – that’s a pretty universal human trait. No one likes outsiders telling them they know us better than we know ourselves.

              That she wrote the article and they still told her no is the part thats mind-blowing to me. She’d already proven her understanding.

          2. neverjaunty

            “North America” is a big place with a lot of diversity. Honestly, while there are plenty of Americans who are bigoted and provincial, that is true of every country.

          3. LBK

            I think the US is extremely culturally diverse on its own, though, so just travelling within the country can expose you to a lot of different attitudes, lifestyles, perspectives, etc. There’s obviously similarities and to an extent it’s more about being outside the comfort zone of your own country that matters than what you actually experience while you’re there, but I think those who aren’t from the US would be surprised at how different their experience would be in New York vs. Los Angeles vs. Houston.

        3. AnotherFed

          And many state’s drivers licenses are good enough for going to/from Canada. Even if they aren’t, you can get an enhanced version for a nominal fee that is still way less than a passport.

      3. Erin

        I had to call someone in Sweden for an article I was writing. Even though I looked up how to make an international call beforehand, I still wasn’t able to handle it. :( Sigh. (In full disclosure, I just got my first smartphone a few months ago.) I ended up asking him to call me instead.

        Why is this so difficult?? I don’t know. We Americans just know we’re going to screw it up and embarrass ourselves. :P

        1. fposte

          Honestly, I think the phone systems share some blame here as well. I had to call a colleague to get her into a meeting while she was in Canada, and it took four tries–and one of them I know failed at the Canadian end, because the error message was in English and French.

        2. Mephyle

          There’s a website called Country Calling Codes where you can enter the countries you’re calling from and to and it gives you all the prefixes and international codes. It made things a lot easier for me when I discovered it. It doesn’t just give information for your own country but for calling from any other country to any other country – that sometimes comes in handy when you need to write a document for someone in another country.

        3. MissDisplaced

          LOL! I work for an international company and many of my coworkers are in Europe. I struggle nearly every single time to make the phone call! Stupid, I know, but it requires a lot of extra steps and numbers from our work phone system and it still doesn’t always go through.

          Thank goodness for Webex, Skype and IM’s! Much faster and more dependable.

          One other note: As an American, I am constantly amazed by the ability of my colleagues to speak and read/write in multiple languages. Most of the people I work with know two (English + their native language) but most know three or even four quite well for conversation. It shames me! I have none of that, and our public schools certainly do not encourage it.

      4. Chameleon

        I hate to admit this, but…I’m an American and I’m not even really sure how to make an international phone call. I mean, you guys have all these *numbers*…

        1. Sara

          Sometimes it is a little non-intuitive. When I lived in Namibia, how you dialed the phone number for a cell phone was slightly different depending on whether you were calling from another local cell phone, a local landline, or a foreign landline/cell phone/Skype.

      5. INTP

        I think it’s because American phone plans tend to charge a large amount of money for calling overseas, so for the past 10 years or so, most international communication is done by internet. I can’t speak for what people did before then, but I’ve never heard of anyone calling overseas by a landline unless it was to speak to an older relative who doesn’t use the internet. In my experience, people use skype for personal and sometimes business communications, sometimes meeting software for international tele-meetings, email for things that don’t require conversation…never the phone. And I work in an inherently international industry.

        1. Elizabeth West

          We called overseas by landline. There was no internet, and no cell phones. My auntie moved to England in the 1970s so that was the only way (other than letters) we could speak to her.

          Now I can call her on my mobile phone by pressing one button. :)

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      I gotta laugh and raise my hand on that one.

      We don’t ship orders overseas but we’re doing a fairly brisk business with European customers who have US tradeshows (and therefore US shipping destinations for the teapots). I have one rep assigned to these accounts. We can conduct business via email almost all the time but ……… she emailed me a couple months ago asking if she was allowed to call overseas because there was something she had to discuss on the phone with a customer.

      My answer: I have no idea.

      I’m old, so a call to Europe in my brain equals a hella lotta money. Is that true anymore, I don’t know!

      I emailed our CFO who should know, or someone on his staff should know, right? Nobody knew. Nobody knew our international rate.

      No time to start an investigation, I just told the rep to call and if there was a bazallion dollar charge on the phone bill, somebody would probably tell us then and we’d know.

      Nothing bad happened next. (And of course, we got the order.)

      1. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady

        It can be really cheap, but if you don’t have an international plan, it can be super expensive. I pay about 2 cents a minute to call the US on my phone. 1 cent a minute if I use Skype to call a US phone. My sister pays $5 a month to be able to call me an unlimited amount.

        And I’m not really mocking Americans. I didn’t know how to make an international call before moving overseas. Why? Before moving to Switzerland I’d made precisely one call to a country other than the US or Canada. (Calling Canada isn’t hard from the US.) I had no need. Most people don’t.

        1. misspiggy

          This is one of the reasons why I love this site – you learn things that shake up your worldview. Also not mocking, but amazed.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Which, is why I was irritated with the CFO and his team. All I know is that if international calling isn’t set up properly, you can get gouged. Based on the blank stares (virtual, thru email) I got back, that’s probably the case with us, dunno.

          If another need comes up and I have some time on my hands, I’ll rattle the cage to make somebody find out.

      2. BRR

        My new job is at an international organization and our phone system is set up somehow over the network so I can dial extensions of people in the London office. They said they do this to avoid international charges. But I also equate international calling with big money.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Ours does this in the U.S. We’re not international (though I wish we were!).

          At least on my mobile, with the international plan attached, it hardly costs me anything to make calls overseas. Skype is even cheaper.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger

        I’m old, so a call to Europe in my brain equals a hella lotta money. Is that true anymore, I don’t know!

        [Raises hand slowly]

        Apparently I’m old, too, as I remember when “long distance” was a big deal. That said, I do know that the UK is included on my Vonage plan, as one of my cousins lives there, although it turns out it’s easier to message each other anyway. But for any country other than Canada, Mexico, or the UK, I’d have to look it up. As far as work goes, I work for a government agency, and not one of the interesting ones that does anything internationally, so we probably aren’t supposed to make international calls.

        1. Sarahnova

          My office is getting set up with fully-integrated Skype for Business that you can use to make calls to any phone internationally for cheap. When I was self-employed, I was able to dial the US very cheaply using Skype credit. VoIP technology can be used now to make international calling very affordable.

        2. Turanga Leela

          When I was 14, my mother figured out that I had a boyfriend because I rang up a $100 phone bill calling him. He lived maybe two counties away but in a different area code. I guess kids today don’t have that particular problem.

          1. cbackson

            I got my first job so I could pay my share of the family long distance bill when my high school boyfriend moved away to another state. Memories!

      4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        It is totally possible to spend a fortune on international calls. Via my cell carrier (without a plan) a call to South America is $2.35/minute. Via Google voice on my phone, it’s 9 cents/minute. It’s also confusing how calls to cell phones are charged differently in other countries. That same 9 cent call to a landline is 35 cents/minute to mobile. Which matters if you are using something pre-paid like google voice. Europeans are used to different charges for mobile calls. Most Americans have never heard on this.

    3. Us, Too

      re: US residents not knowing how to dial an international number. It’s true. I work for an international website and one of the most surprising issues I stumbled across last year was how hard it was for US residents to correctly enter their phone number into our website’s form. The vast majority of them had no idea that the “1” they see before their area code is the USA’s country code. They got super confused when asked to provide their country code and would enter the 1 as part of their phone number even when we separated country code into a different field to make it “easier”. We had to implement a ton of extra error handling for the US that simply wasn’t necessary for Europe and most of APAC.

      1. Elizabeth West

        This confuses me too. I had to look up how to call UK numbers to check reservations, etc. and how to enter them in my mobile so I could speed dial. That’s when I learned about the 1.

        1. Sara

          Yeah, I didn’t know about country codes until the first time I went abroad for an extended period of time. (Why would I have needed to? I was 18, and everyone I knew lived in the U.S.)

    4. Stranger than fiction

      Thank you for the reminder about references+emails. I’ve always done this, but I’ve seen this question raised more than once here about calling references abroad and that seems such obvious workaround to me.

  8. snuck

    #2 I’m wondering if this is a casual or seasonal role? I can’t imagine being that cavalier! Move on OP, move on :)

    1. Erin

      She mentioned it’s a winery, so yes, it would likely be seasonal. I can’t imagine they’re harvesting grapes right now, but we don’t know what the position is. But, it’s sort of a moot point – she accepted the job, had a start date, and never touched base after her injury. Seasonal or not, it’s appropriate to move on now after maybe giving this potential employee one last chance.

  9. Boo

    #1 while I think there is a stigma attached to being deemed overweight, I don’t think the kind of weight gain you’re talking about will have an adverse effect on your career. My only advice really would be to avoid discussing it with coworkers/people in your team. They’re probably not aware of your weight gain/loss, and talking about it to them will only bring it to their attention and worse risks making them think it is their business to judge/comment on in future. Good luck with your fitness plan :)

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Yes. I’m curious if OP is bringing up changes in her weight to co-workers. Avoiding the topic and not drawing attention to your weight will likely make it less of an issue.

      I’m pretty small, but a couple of years ago I suddenly lost 20lbs because I stopped taking a medication that had made me gain 20lbs (not underweight, still in the “normal weight” range). Had been taking it for several years, and I was just returning to my normal size (many people I know professionally hadn’t seen me at my normal weight before because it had been so long). I hated – HATED – the comments. No, I haven’t taken up cross fit. And yes, I’ve always eaten this healthy food. My chronic illness got worse and I had to change meds.

      Years before that, I lost too much weight from intestinal worms (and a likely case of cholera) I got while traveling. People either told me I looked great (which I did not – I was pale and drooping, but damn skinny!) or treated me gingerly like I might have cancer. Believe me, you do not want to hear about my worms – so gross! – so don’t ask about my weight unless you are my mother.

      Weight is just not a good topic for workplace chit-chat.

      1. CrazyCatz

        Op Here! I’m really enjoying everyone’s comments today and really appreciate the advice.

        I think it’s interesting that some are mentioning bringing up weight at work and while I generally agree it’s not something I want to talk about constantly, people are definitely aware that I try to be health conscious. For example, during lunch meetings I tend to go for the salad and when people ask what I’m doing in the evenings, I will let them know when I’m heading to the gym. A lot of my co-workers also where fitbits which frankly is fun! We’ll compete with one another to see who can get the most steps. I know I’m one of those people that spend more time at work then home, so I definitely find this to be a positive thing. However, I do find it interesting how some (a very small few) do choose to make rude comments when weight fluctuates since it’s very clear from these comments alone that it’s something we all deal with.

        1. MK

          I know it is usual to associate eating/exercise habits with weight, and it’s a factor of course, but you don’t need to feel self-conscious because you eat salads and go to the gym. Health and weight are not always correlated. In the past year, I always ate very lightly at lunch, because I don’t work well on a too-full stomach, and did pilates 4 times a week out of long habit. I gained almost 15 kilos during that time, because I ate too much (and too many fattening foods) in the evenings, but my last medical showed I am in excellent health. If anyone comments on your habits, say you are doing it for your health.

        2. Anonymous fatty

          In my experience, Fitbits lead to a lot of discussion about weight. It seems like people see wearing a Fitbit as a sign that you are into fitness and weight loss and that you want to talk about it. I have a Fitbit, but it’s the kind you put in your pocket, not on your wrist, and I don’t do any of the group competitions, specifically because I don’t want to invite those kinds of comments. Many people think the best compliment they can give is noticing that you’ve lost weight, so they don’t see anything rude about it.

    2. Artemesia

      Great point. We have an image of people we know and most of us fail to notice anything that is not a sudden dramatic change.

      1. Boo

        I never notice anything but very dramatic, fast weight loss/gain. I never say anything as I know the reasons are seldom good ones e.g. health issues, and if they are good and the person wants to share their amazing new diet or whatever they will do so without my commenting on their appearance.

    3. Stranger than fiction

      Agreed. Alison was totally right that she should focus on her confidence/self-esteem issues (or depression, if the added weight is causing that too). That’s way more likely to have an impact if anything.

  10. Enantiomeria

    OP #1, I’m a very curvy person who has to buy specially sized clothes to fit my waist and chest properly, and I’ve experienced a similar level of weight gain to you since starting my PhD program. It really sucks, and I feel you on any kind of women’s business casual/workwear type clothes being extremely unforgiving of any slight variations in weight.

    That said, in my experience 15-20 extra pounds hasn’t been noticeable – at least to the extent that no one’s made any rude comments to me or treated me differently. The real negative effect it had on me was just a general sort of wearing-down on my self-esteem (because I was noticing every day that my clothes didn’t fit the same way and internally berating myself for not exercising) and, like what you describe, not feeling comfortable in my skin. I felt a lot more comfortable after biting the bullet and buying some new clothes that fit me better, although I understand that this isn’t in everyone’s budget and you might be hoping that this is something you don’t need to do anyway. I can certainly relate to what other commenters have said above about thinking that the extra weight is going to go away and sticking with what kind-of fits instead of getting new things that fit you well.

    When you’re having a bad day and feeling like everyone’s noticing (although I guarantee they’re probably not), try to remember all the things you’re really good at doing when you’re at work. Try to keep it in your mind that you’re good at what you do and worthy of respect as a manager, and your appearance (and youth, and femaleness) have no bearing on that. Good luck with your exercise plan!

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      I am a fan of skinny-cut pants, and even a 5lb change can leave me reaching for my bigger pants. I have the worst day when my clothes are uncomfortable. But totally feel the pain of not wanting to buy new clothes.

  11. Erin

    #1- I 100% agree with Alison’s advice on the mindset. Your uncomfortableness and selfconsciousness is likely coming through more than the actual weight. Think thin! Fake it till you make it! I’m sure it’s harder than it sounds, but I’d approach this one like Alison advises people to tackle the impostor syndrome.

    Also, it sounds like you have a good attitude about this. You’re exercising, and you’ve pinned down why you gained weight in the first place. Good luck!

  12. la munieca

    #5, I work in training so I empathize with the difficulty of explaining your impact. I have no doubt you’re contributing to your department’s reputation as the place to go to find great people, but if I’m a future employer and I hear you take credit for your department’s reputation, my first thought is that there’s a lot that could go into your department’s success: an ability to attract and hiring great people, providing people with experience and opportunities that develop skills valued by the organization (I think of how in-demand our salesforce people are throughout the organization), a politically well-connected department, managers who provide clear support and expectations, work for which it is easier to show results and articulate impact. Said another way, the credit for being a great talent pool could lie with your sourcing/recruitment/hiring/staffing team, management team, the nature of the work, or political capital and reputation of the department within the organization. The case for your work will be found in quality and effectiveness of your particular programming. If you’re looking for ways to measure and articulate your impact, the classic framework for evaluating adult learning is Kirkpatrick (a google search will pull up all you need) though other models will pop up if you google a few key words like, “learning evaluation” or “measuring the impact of training.” Good onboarding by nature is integrated within the systems and management of the new hire, so teasing out your particular contribution to that ecosystem can require some nuanced thinking, but baseline testing, clear and targeted learning objectives, manager observations around behavior change, and learners’ unprompted accessing of onboarding resources can all be good pieces of evidence for your effectiveness.

    1. Training Manager

      #5 – In addition to the evaluation process above, when training managers are researching and interviewing people who are newer to the Training realm it is important to demonstrate how you influenced the training. In addition to what Allison mentioned above (which is as stellar as always) mention what you did to improve the training in the department. For example…..”Created and implemented 5 step on-boarding and training program which reduced new hire training by XX days or weeks” or if it is less specific, “Developed training program that resulted in advancement of XX people to higher positions within the company in xx months or less”. Of course you want to be truthful and tailor the above statements to your situation, but it sounds like you have a great mentoring and training program. If you have not been doing it formally then I recommend documenting it as well so that you can see about implementing it formally and building from there. Good luck and well done, the joy of training is to have that “pride” in seeing others succeed.

      1. SMT

        Thanks for this! I think this is actually going to be really helpful in the training I’m trying to start at my work!

      2. OP #5

        Wow-o-wow. This is fantastic stuff. Thank you so much. This is much better than how I’ve had my resume/linked in. I will update pronto.

        1. Training Manager

          You are quite welcome – I have been in the training field for about 15+ years (after trying to find my niche for about 5 years before that :) ), and started in training the same way it sounds like you are. Best of luck and keep at it.

  13. Stackson

    OP #4:
    I’m from the US, but lived in Japan for a while. When I was making plans to come back, I contacted the Chamber of Commerce in my target area and told them my situation. They put me in touch with the HR rep at a Japanese company and he requested that I send him my resume. He didn’t have any openings, but passed it around to other companies in the area that fit the bill for what I was looking for, and a few weeks later I heard from a company that wanted a phone interview. They actually held the job for three months for me until I returned. I’m still at that company now. Of course, YMMV, because I was moving to an area with a fair amount of Japanese-headquartered companies, and I was able to find work as a translator (initially). Depending on where you’re moving though, you may be able to find some UK-headquartered companies (or other foreign companies) that may be sympathetic to your situation. Good luck! I know how terrifying the move can be!

    1. HM in Atlanta

      This method was really helpful to me in a past role (to be able to hire people returning to the US after working in Japan).

  14. Ella

    “Another one is being eyed with intensity.”

    I am laughing at how this sounds out of context. Poor guy, just trying to work, and people are following him around and staring at him… :-D

  15. MsChanandlerBong

    I once applied for a job as a grocery store cashier (so, not a modeling job or anything that would require me to be thin/fit), and the manager who took my application had to write down a guesstimate of my weight on a piece of paper (per company policy; I could see the paper as she was writing on it). God bless her, she underestimated by 30 pounds. But what in heaven’s name would a person’s weight/appearance have to do with being a cashier?

    The worst part is that I had worked at that store for two years before I went to college, won the customer courtesy award for one of those years, and had the highest IPM (items scanned per minute, a measure of speed) of any cashier in the store. So it’s not like they were wondering if someone of my weight could do the job; I’d done it well for two years!

    1. Allison

      That sounds like a crummy policy. Since being a cashier involves being on your feet for hours, I wonder if they were concerned a heavy cashier would have problems standing at the till, or wouldn’t last long in the job.

      1. Kelly L.

        I also wondered if the manager was accidentally filling out, say, an insurance form that MsChandandlerBong was supposed to fill out herself in private, or something, but on a second read, it doesn’t even sound like it was a form. My guess is probably an asshole in the upper management of the store.

    2. INTP

      The only valid-ish reason I can think of for that policy (and I grant that this is a stretch) is that a person’s fitness level and general health might have something to do with how safe they are to move heavy objects, which would be common in the stockroom and might have something to do with the costs of insurance for that employee. But I can’t imagine how it would be relevant for the majority of people, since thinness typically has little to do with muscle strength to prevent minor accidents and back strains.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I’d go for that, except it wasn’t even a form. She literally had to write a guesstimate of my weight down on a piece of paper. That store is now out of business, thanks to the ridiculous decisions of the founder’s children. Once he passed away, it only took them a few years to bring the whole business crashing down, and their father had been in business for over 50 years. I assume the weight thing was their idea, since it wasn’t a thing when I was originally hired (when the founder was still alive).

  16. Miss Betty

    My middle sister lost a significant amount of weight several years ago (I’d guess around 80 pounds) and has kept if off. She said it was amazing, the number of times people who’d never spoken with her before in her company – people further up the hierarchy than she was – would stop her in the halls once she became noticeably smaller and would ask her if she’d ever considered this particular job or that particular job before – all of which she’d been just as qualified for a few months previously. These people had literally never noticed her when she was heavy. She said it was a real eye-opener about how being overweight holds people, or at least women, back in the workplace. She hadn’t really believed it before until these conversations kept happening with her.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      I had a (female) board member question why I hired an overweight person one time,”because she will be so low energy”. Unfortunately, it turned out the person was super low energy, but she was struggling with terrible depression. The whole conversation felt gross.

    2. HM in Atlanta

      I actually have had more than one interview in the past 18 months, where the person loved me on the phone, loved my background, but when we met he and she both said something along the lines of – “I didn’t realized you’d be so heavy from your linkedin picture.” (Note – my linkedin picture is the real me, not anything hidden/airbrushed/photoshopped/etc. You can tell I’m not thin.) Both “final” interviews lasted less than 15 minutes. I hate it, but it really pushed me to make some changes in my life to address the plus size.

    3. Windchime

      I have experienced the invisibility factor. Twice in my life I have lost (and regained) around 60 pounds. At my normal weight, people are cordial and fine. At my thinner weight, they are much more friendly and all the sudden, men can “see” me. It’s disheartening. It’s seriously as if being heavier is a cloak of invisibility.

  17. JMW

    #4 I have interviewed someone from overseas before, and for me the important thing was that the person had connections in the area. She had lived in the area once and she had a cousin in the next city over. I would hate to have someone move from so far only to feel lost and thrown by local culture. If you can frame it as a “move home”, or some variant, it might make people more inclined to interview.

    The other thing that a potential employer is going to be concerned about is your timeframe. For a management position, we can wait longer to get just the right person, but for a customer service position we may need someone to full the roll immediately. Be prepared to talk about how quickly you can move (and be prepared to move quickly, relatively speaking).

  18. Graciosa

    Regarding #3, I’m going to make a plug for a phone call preceding the email.

    I realize that the manager is “unlikely to take the news well” and it would be easier to avoid the conversation, but I think this is one of those small points that can really help professionally. It’s much more respectful of the manager and the relationship, and learning to get through difficult conversations is an important skill. This is a pretty safe place to practice it now that the OP has another job lined up.

    The OP could call whenever the manager is likely to be available, and if necessary leave a message explaining that it’s very important that they speak and giving a time when the OP will try again. If they don’t manage to connect by the end of the day, the manager will have multiple voice mails showing that the OP tried to have a personal conversation. This can also be added to the email (“I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to reach you today, as I really wanted to give you this news in person rather than email, but …”) which can be sent at the end of the day.

    This doesn’t really delay the notice much, but it does remove any additional perceived injury of “Didn’t even bother to speak to me – she just resigned by email when she was out of town.”

    This kind of thing is noticed. I had a business VP speak with great admiration of someone who came over to his house to resign in person. These courtesies can be a big enough deal that I would recommend making the effort to call even if there are huge time zone issues and it requires some sacrifice on the OP’s part to do it.

    There are times when doing more than the minimum can really help your reputation.

  19. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

    I used to be 400 pounds, I am not 180-185 depending on the week and how good of a mood my scale is in.
    I’ve had this same job at 400 pounds and now and not only do co-workers treat me more catty but so do my patients.
    I’m currently looking for a new job so maybe I’ll notice a more positive difference there.

    1. Not me

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Sometimes you just happen to be the right size in the right place/right time to get other people’s weight issues all over you. :/

    2. Oryx

      First, congrats on your weight loss. Second, I’m sorry you are being treated that way, that’s horrible. Third, as someone who also has to deal with weight issues, I’m borrowing the “how good of a mood my scale is in” phrase.

    3. Brooke

      Yep, there’s definitely two sides of this coin. I got catty comments about my (average) weight from a supervisor who, in her own words, “needed to lose 150 pounds.” Granted, her attitude was terrible in ways unrelated to weight; it was just one way in which it showed up.

  20. Graciosa

    To OP #5, this is a huge achievement which I greatly admire.

    There’s not a lot of detail about how you do this, so it could be the result of your superior communication skills, ability to adjust teaching style to suit the personality, ongoing coaching (which requires trust, and involves relationship building). If you’re involved in selecting, supervising, or managing people, it could also result from outstanding skills in spotting and developing talent for the company (which is a major differentiator).

    Honestly, this is part of what I aspire to as a manager – as do my fellow managers regardless of gender.

    Figure out how to discuss how you do this and why you’re so good at it. If there is a company that doesn’t value your talents in this area, it’s the wrong employer for you. Write them off and move on. There are plenty of companies who would be thrilled to find someone with this talent. Choose one who will appreciate you.

    1. OP #5

      I’m actually not involved in interviewing or supervising. In general, I’d say I’ve been lucky to be handed as many ‘bright young things’ as I have. The selection process that happens before I enter the picture definitely works in my favor. I probably need to focus on the features of the training program itself, which is very feedback friendly and also designed so that the student sets the pace of training.

  21. OP#3

    Hi all. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

    I got an email last night from one of our board members, asking specifically for the reason for my departure. I explicitly avoided such explanation in my resignation, because the truth is that things are not good there, weren’t going to get better, and the whole org is hugely dysfunctional–none of which really have a place in that communication. I know I’m under no obligation to answer the email, but I also truly do want the org to succeed and I don’t think it can, as things currently stand there. Any thoughts?

    1. LBK

      I would just give a vague answer (it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, I’m just looking for a change, etc.) and say you’d be happy to meet when you get back to the office to speak more in detail. I think if you have a good relationship with the person who’s asking and they can be trusted to take criticism seriously, there could be merit in bringing up the issues that led to your departure, but I wouldn’t do it via email. There’s way too much room for misinterpretation (and the last thing you want to do on your honeymoon is get stuck in a contentious email chain with your boss).

  22. Amanda

    #4 — I just did an overseas to US move. I knew I’d be moving several months ahead of time, so I arranged to go to the US for a week about three months before move day and structured my search around those dates. I did phone calls for informationals and interviews (using a Skype number so the person didn’t have to call internationally, with an area code of my target city), and mentioned in my cover letter which dates I would be in town. I was able to line up several interviews for that week, then wrapped up the recruiting process for my new company via phone and email. If I hadn’t received an offer, I was fully prepared to make the move without a job — but it went swimmingly and none of my prospective employers blinked. Key lessons:
    – make it clear that you are DEFINITELY relocating to the area
    – get a US Skype number with your target area’s area code (it’s cheap and SO worth it)
    – be prepared to schedule calls at ANY time day or night depending on how crazy your time difference is

  23. Anon for this

    First, I love this blog and all the helpful information it provides! But the answer and discussion here about weight is really bothering me.

    I understand pragmatically talking about how weight can change perceptions and opportunities professionally is useful, as this has been shown in the research. It’s always good to know the facts and reality of a situation. But we’re talking about it like it’s an okay phenomenon. There are stereotypes that go with being over weight including being lazy etc, which are based on biases and prejudice, not fact. Yes, certain jobs require a certain state of physical fitness, but weight and physical fitness are not the the same thing. And for desk jobs, weight and work performance is not going to be related most of the time.

    My point is that we are acting like blanket biases and assumptions related to job performance as related to weight are acceptable rather than looking at them as prejudiced actions. If someone had wrote in asking if having a traditionally African American name will effect their likelihood to get an interview, the answer would be yes, the research has shown that to be true. But I feel like there would be at least a nod to the fact that this is attributed to racism, rather than an inherent flaw of the candidate. And likely there would not be implicit recommendations that candidate would benefit from changing themselves.

    Maybe I am missing the tone of the answer/comments, but I feel we need to acknowledge that assumptions of competence/ability based on weight happen, but are in no way acceptable. People’s weights are not the problem in this situation; it’s our society’s views and assumptions around weight, especially for women.

    1. LBK

      I see what you’re saying, but I think given how often this point has been discussed at length on other letters, it’s kind of just taken for granted that everywhere here agrees that your weight shouldn’t affect your career. Also, the framing and context of the question were more like “understanding (as we all do) that this crappy thing probably happens, what do I realistically do about it?” which I think is informing the responses.

    2. Kelly L.

      I don’t think any of us are saying it’s OK, more that this is a thing that exists in the world, but sucks. We don’t really have a standard word for this prejudice yet–weightism? looksism? fatphobia may be the one I’ve heard most? so we’re maybe not as good at summing it up in a quick soundbite. But it isn’t cool.

    3. VintageLydia USA

      This blog and it’s commenters do lean toward the social justice side but it’s also very very pragmatic. As in, advice given is typically the sort of things the letter writers can actually act on in the short term, often with several suggestions so they can tailor it to their specific situation. Most letter writers do not have the power to effect sweeping changes in society by themselves. And honestly, the few times people do write in and have an obvious bias that can damage others’ careers (to us–often unconscious on their part) they’re very quickly called out. Sometimes nicely, sometimes not, but it happens regardless.

      It’s a good thing to be angered or upset that fatphobia and racism and sexism can effect (affect? I never can get that right) our jobs and careers. We should talk about them on a meta level and educate others, particularly those who hire and fire employees, about these biases and how they can even be unconscious and steps they can take to prevent these biases from effecting their decisions. But in the meantime, people who are overweight or those with non-white american sounding names or gay or whatever still need jobs and society won’t just suddenly become non-bigoted overnight.

      1. LBK

        This is totally irrelevant to most of your comment but as a general rule of thumb, it’s “effect” when you want a noun (an effect of sexism is that women get paid less) and “affect” when you want a verb (average pay for women is affected by sexism).

        Confusingly, they can both function as either a noun or verb, but the meanings change completely when you use the other part of speech.

    4. fposte

      I’ll also note, Anon, we have had that conversation about names more than once. And we’ve had that conversation about other things where pragmatism and idealism may diverge, like negotiation strategies and research about perception of women.

    5. politiktity

      +++++

      It’s not just that it’s gross and unacceptable, but it’s so harmful.

      I started putting on weight about 5 years ago. It took 5 years to figure out that I was suffering chronic allergies which caused fatigue, inability to exercise, poor immune system. Basically a perfect storm for gaining weight. And medical professionals kept telling me to lose weight and refused to do further tests, because the scale made the problem kind of obvious.

      I seriously considered weight loss surgery (not exactly low risk) just so that I could get appropriate health care in the hopes of getting healthy.

      The whole process destroyed my confidence. And while few people were overtly discriminatory, it has clearly colored their perception of me. I am invisible. It is assumed I am lazy, or motherly. My manager and I find my proposals are better received when he presents them.

      And for now that suits me fine. I prefer being behind the scenes. But the main reason I prefer being behind the scenes is because society is set up in a way that reinforces that my place is to be helpful but not seen.

  24. Anonymous Recruiter

    On #1, I, admittedly, have a bias against obese people. I know it’s terrible, but I believe we all have biases and pretending like we don’t doesn’t help us overcome them. I also realize that this says more about me than it does them (and I’m pretty sure I know why/how this all began.) So, when I interview an obese person, I make very sure to try and not have that factor into my decision making. Unfortunately, I’d guess that most people who have a bias against obese or overweight folks either won’t admit it to themselves, or don’t care and consciously factor that into their decision making.

    All this is to say, that despite my bias against obese people in hiring, as soon as they work with me or for me it stops becoming an “issue” for me to consciously overcome. That isn’t to say I never think of it again, but it just isn’t something that factors into my everyday assessment of their work performance. So, I doubt that #1 has much to worry about in her current role, especially since she’s already demonstrated that she’s a good performer.

    1. AnonAcademic

      “I’m pretty sure I know why/how this all began”

      Can you elaborate? And also on how you try to avoid letting your bias impact hiring. As someone who is fit but overweight I’d like to know what I’m up against.

      1. Anonymous Recruiter

        I’m happy to elaborate. I used to be a competitive athlete and as a teenager there was a large emphasis on not “carrying extra weight around.” We had weigh ins, weight was discussed, what we ate was discussed, people were ridiculed for weighing too much, etc. While I was never a target (my weight was always deemed acceptable) I developed a fear of gaining weight and some pretty disordered eating habits (not being able to eat “wet” foods before certain types of events, for example, and other strange things.) In my mind, I began to associate the girls with weight problems as girls who just didn’t have enough self control. Anyway, I know this is all messed up, and I’ve done a lot of work on myself and come a long way, but that bias is still sitting there in the back of my mind.

        I try not to let my bias impact hiring a couple of ways. I try to really listen to the feedback others provide on candidates, I stop to ask myself if I am viewing someone a certain way because of the way they look, or because there really were problems with their answers. If my mind starts to wonder into thoughts about their weight, I try to mentally check myself on it. I also have to remind myself that it’s not my job to police other people’s weight or eating habits, but it is my job to hire the best person for any given role, and that helps to put things in perspective.

  25. L McD

    #1 – n’thing the “it’s not the size, it’s the confidence.” There are some people who are truly bigots and will not want to hire or promote you if you don’t fit a certain physical ideal. But the vast majority of people are going to pick up on your cues more than anything. It’s difficult to be comfortable in your own skin when the world is telling you not to be; I follow plus-size fashion blogs where average people send in OOTD pictures (there are a million of them on tumblr). It took me a few years, but in my mind, it started to normalize the idea that there are people who look like me, are confident, dress well, and are happy. Now I dress the way I want to, instead of trying to hide, and people treat me differently in both my business and personal life, even as my weight fluctuates. It’s my attitude that matters, not my dress size.

    1. L McD

      And I should note it’s important to see average people’s OOTDs, not just plus-size models, because with a few notable exceptions (Tess Holliday) plus-size models tend to have one specific idealized body type that doesn’t reflect the majority of plus-sized women.

      1. Mander

        Ah yes, this is another one of my beefs with plus-size clothing. We’re not all just larger hourglasses.

  26. Mander

    #4, if it gets to the stage of phone interviews, you might want to make sure that the other party understands the time difference. Hopefully anyone you’re interviewing with isn’t totally ignorant about time zones, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

    My anecdote on this subject: I went through several weeks of delay in getting my US student loans disbursed to my UK university a few years ago. When I finally managed to talk to someone at the loans company, they told me they couldn’t verify my enrollment because the university was always closed.

    Turns out they *only* did these phone calls in the afternoon. They were calling from Florida, which is 6 hours behind the UK, so whenever they called it was after 5pm here and the offices were closed. They were totally baffled when I explained this and I had to talk to multiple supervisors before I got someone who would agree to call in the morning instead.

    This was also the company that kept sending my loan paperwork to a university in a US city with the same name as the UK city I was actually going to (the university names themselves were totally different). Naturally the US uni kicked it back saying I wasn’t a student there. The first customer service representative didn’t understand that there were countries outside the US and kept asking me what state “England” was in. I mentioned the revolutionary war, the Boston tea party, etc. and got the verbal equivalent of a blank stare.

  27. Brooke

    “” I’ve probably gained about 15-20 pounds, ironically related to work related stress and a lack of many healthy food options in the workplace. I’m the type of person where even small weight gains cause me to change clothing sizes. The way women’s suits and work clothes are cut, I feel as though there is no easy way to hide the weight. I’m currently trying to take off that weight, which typically means really early morning workouts, but it’s a slow process.”

    I agree. It’s definitely a slow process, and people who try to speed it up may actually cause harm!

    My recommendations as someone who has 15-20 extra pounds and is actively working to reduce them? First check out different stores. You may change your thinking that the way “clothes are cut” are universally problematic in trying to hide extra weight. I’ve had good luck experimenting with different stores and proportions. And speaking of experimenting, have fun with different types of exercise. For me, exercising in the early morning like you mention was like pulling teeth. Now I do exercise classes at night and I’m more successful. And like you, there are scant healthy food resources near/at work…. so I just bring my lunches.

    I wish you luck! Know you’re not alone. And for what it’s worth, taking the time to take care of myself has really increased my energy level which I can apply to work – AND nonwork. Win/win!

  28. Globetrotter

    I have not had a chance to read through everyone’s answers but for #4 if you know which city or state you will be moving back to and maybe have a friend whose address you can use this can help. The thing is most of the time when people are looking for your resume if you have applied for a job then it is the ATS system looking and it works just like Google search so as long as you have the right keywords (location) they will look at your CV. That is the hard part over with because now you have their attention. If you are qualified they will then read your cover letter explaining that you are moving back and then everything should move forward from there.
    You not being in the country is not that big a deal you just have to get past the ATS gatekeeper :)

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